IN SUPPORT OF THE BLACK EXCELLENCE RESOLUTION
DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION
FEBRUARY 21, 2019
Public Comment by Ariel Taylor Smith
Members of the Board of Education.
My name is Ariel Taylor Smith, I am the cofounder of Transform Education Now, or TEN, we are an education advocacy organization that organizes parents and community around access to high quality public schools in the Denver Metro Area. I am also a member of the Equity Network for Metro Denver.
I am here this evening to support the Black Excellence Resolution and to encourage this board to continue to support district actions to close the unacceptable opportunity gaps we have in our city. We believe that equity audits, mandatory implicit bias training, equitable distribution of resources, accountability measures for schools that have persistent inequity and an urgency around increasing school quality in all neighborhoods are components that will give more students in this city access to the opportunities and learning that they deserve.
TEN is very grateful that the equity bonus- a bonus intended to recruit and retain high quality teachers at our highest priority schools was included in the final DCTA contract, we believe that this is a teacher retention strategy that is an important teacher retention strategy. TEN also supported an increase to teacher base salaries and more predictability in teacher pay- we look forward to assessing how this increase in base and predictability helps us recruit and retain more teachers of color in our district, currently we have 70% students of color and a disportionately white teaching staff- who up until this resolution- have not been required to assess their bias or raise their consciousness.
In addition to the initiatives set forth in this resolution, we hope that the district will continue to hold schools accountable for having large gaps in student performance through the equity indicator. We were very concerned to see the gaps at our many of our comprehensive high schools around who is being prepared for college in our city. Currently 8 out of every 10 white students is meeting college ready standards on the SAT whereas 3 out of every 10 students of color are. At some of our comprehensive high schools, that gap is as high as 63%. Our students need to be given equal opportunities to advance their learning and we are happy to see the district begin to take steps to evaluate where that is not happening. We expect that in these equity audits, we learn how many students of color are in IB programs, AP programs and gifted and talented programs throughout the city.
Lastly, we would like to thank Director Bacon for her leadership on this critical conversation about student equity and student opportunity in this district. ENUF, TEN, the African American Equity Task Force, the Far NorthEast Commission and the first rendition of the Strengthening Neighborhood Committee have all recommended that this district require mandatory implicit bias training for all staff and many other components of this resolution. This is a first step toward what we hope will be a renewed commitment to addressing inequity in our district and ensuring that all children have access to an education that will prepare them for a lifetime of opportunity.